Domain name Developments

An important deadline to note for .uk registrants

Up until 10 June 2014, Nominet, the registry in control of the .uk ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain), offered only domain names that were unique at the third level – i.e. google.co.uk, mind.org.uk or ipo.gov.uk.  The second level was a generic identifier indicating the type of registrant entity.

After a five-year lead in period, however, it will shortly be possible for anyone to register .uk domain names that are unique at the second level – e.g. nominet.uk.

The creation of this new patch of internet real estate comes with an increased risk of cybersquatting and to counter this Nominet reserved, for existing holders of 10 million qualifying unique third level domains, the corresponding second level domain.  This five year “Right of Registration” period expires at 6am BST on 25 June 2019.

Any .uk domain which has not been registered by the deadline will be released for registration on 1 July 2019 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Holders of .co.uk, .org.uk, .me.uk, .net.uk, .plc.uk or .ltd.uk domains can check to see if their .uk domain has been reserved for them by following this link:

https://www.theukdomain.uk/do-i-have-uk-rights/

Figures recently released by Nominet suggest that the take up has been low so far with only 2 million domains registered and 3.2 million still available for registration.

Of course, there is likely to be a flurry of activity as the deadline draws closer but brands should consider now whether the .uk domain is one that should be added to their defensive portfolio or, indeed, if they would like to migrate their entire on-line presence to the new, snappier domain.

New initiative by the EUIPO and EURid

EURid and the EUIPO have signed a deal to strengthen their cooperation and to reduce instances of bad faith registration in the .eu ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain).

As of 18 May 2019, owners of EU trade marks (whether registered or pending) will be able to opt-in to receive notifications when a letter string corresponding to their trade mark is registered as a .eu domain name.  Such notification will of course allow the trade mark owner to take any appropriate action at the earliest opportunity.

The service is operated by the EUIPO and there is no official fee payable.

This new service bears some resemblance to the Trademarks Claims service operated by new gTLD registries – with the notable differences that:

i)  the .eu registrant itself is not notified and is not required to make any statement that to the best of its knowledge it is not infringing the EUTM concerned;

ii)  even pending EUTMs are entitled to opt-in for notifications and there is no need to have a validated record on the Trademark Clearinghouse database; and

iii)  the Trademarks Claims service is in place only for the first 90-days of a new gTLD going live (unless a fee is paid) whereas the EUIPO notification appears to be limited only by the life of the underlying trade mark registration.

This is a welcome addition to the armoury of brand owners seeking to protect their rights in the .eu namespace.

Time will tell if it proves to be popular but I see no reason why a brand owner would not want to avail itself of this new service.

By Andy Clemson

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Posted on: 4th June 2019